SEOUL: Several mosques reopened in South Korea on Wednesday following a decline in coronavirus cases across the country, officials told Arab News.
“We’re still concerned about the spread of the novel coronavirus, so over the next 10 days visitors will be allowed to offer prayers only outside the mosque,“ A. Rhaman Lee Ju-hwa, chief imam at the Korea Muslim Federation (KMF), said in a phone interview.
The federation banned Friday prayers at its religious facilities across the country to prevent the spread of coronavirus among South Korea’s 150,000 Muslims, who make up about 0.3 percent of the total population of 51.6 million.
However, the KMF said on Monday that mosques will be reopened for Friday and taraweeh congregational prayers with anti-virus measures observed at all times.
“All Muslims who come to the Seoul Central Mosque and mosques around the country should maintain conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as using hand sanitizers, wearing face masks and writing their names in the registry list,” it said.
Worshippers must also stay at least one meter away from each other to limit the spread of
Following the outbreak of the pandemic two months ago, the South Korean government asked religious communities to restrict mass gatherings and raised the national alert for the deadly respiratory disease to the highest level of “serious.”
With Ramadan starting on April 23, many are hoping to celebrate Eid — the festival to mark the end of the month — with special prayers at mosques.
“If all goes well, we will be able to hold a festival either on May 23 or 24,” Lee said.
Reopening of mosques, along with the flattening of the coronavirus curve, will boost confidence in the country.
On Wednesday, South Korea had the third consecutive day of zero, locally transmitted COVID-19 infections since the start of its “life quarantine” phase.
Only two more coronavirus cases have been reported, bringing the total number to 10,806, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
South Korea’s death toll stands at 255, with an overall fatality rate of 2.36 percent.